Thousands of evacuated Syrians stuck as transfer stalls

Lebanon's Amal Movement Saturday denounced a bomb blast that targeted a bus convoy of evacuees waiting to enter Syria's Aleppo, killing and wounding dozens of people.

The agreement had stalled, leaving thousands of people from both government-besieged and rebel-besieged areas stranded at two transit points on the city's outskirts, before the explosion occurred.

"The suicide bomber was driving a van supposedly carrying aid supplies and detonated near the buses", the Observatory said.

The UN says 4.72 million Syrians are in hard-to-reach areas, including 600,000 people under siege, mostly by the Syrian army, but also by rebels or the Islamic State group. Buses were blackened by the blast with their windows blown out. He accused the government or extremist rebel groups of orchestrating the attack to discredit the opposition.

The attack, in Rashidin, west of Aleppo, also wounded dozens, according to the Observatory and an AFP correspondent on the scene.

A Facebook page belonging to the pro-government Foua and Kfraya villages said all those in three buses were killed or are still missing while a rebel official said at least 30 opposition fighters who were guarding the evacuees were killed in the blast. "There is a lot of sadness here", said Muhammed Darwish, a dentistry student who had become the town's closest approximation of a doctor.

As diplomacy in Moscow focused on the U.S. air strikes targeting the country, more than 2350 people were taken by bus out of the twin towns of Madaya and Zabadani near Damascus. Hundreds of people are said to have been injured. They circulated a statement on social media imploring "international organizations" to intervene so the situation did not escalate.

He said it is not clear what hinders the completion of the evacuation.

Playing on fears of al-Qaida rule, Assad's government showed leniency to the country's Christian, Shiite and Alawite minorities while bringing the weight of its military against majority Sunni areas - especially Sunni pockets in demographically mixed areas, such as along the Lebanese border, where Madaya and Zabadani lie, and along the Mediterranean coast. The evacuation in al-Zabadani will begin on Saturday, he said.

The SOHR said the delay was because rebel fighters from Zabadani had not yet been granted safe passage out.

Late Friday, the buses from Madaya arrived in Rashidin, where the evacuees from Fuaa and Kefraya were waiting, according to a resident aboard one of the buses. No one has any quick answers on how to rebuild Aleppo, Syria's largest city, much less the rest of a country that has seen appalling desolation.

A Madaya resident, speaking from the bus garage inside Aleppo, said people had been waiting there since late last night, and were not being allowed to leave.

"There's no drinking water or food".

"There was no other choice in the end - we were besieged inside a small area in Madaya".

Similar amnesties were extended to other areas that have surrendered to the government, including Moadamiyeh, Hameh, Qudsaya and the Barada Valley around the capital, and formerly rebellious neighborhoods in Aleppo and Homs, Syria's first and third largest cities, respectively.

The coordinated evacuations delivered war-weary fighters and residents from two years of siege and hunger, but moved Syria closer to a division of its national population by loyalty and sect.

The evacuees had been allowed to leave their villages this week as part of a Shia-Sunni exchange agreement between the Syrian government and insurgents who have been fighting a civil war for six years.

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